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12.12.2007
Leading Man
Portzamparc to design academy's film museum
Courtesy Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

On November 8 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its selection of Paris-based Christian de Portzamparc to design its new movie museum in Hollywood. 

The museum, described by the academy as “a place for watching and learning about film and filmmaking, for exploring film’s relationship with the greater world, and for listening to stories told by filmmakers,” will be located just north of its existing Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, south of Sunset Boulevard. Designs have not yet been developed, but Bruce Davis, the academy’s executive director, said that the museum will sit on an 8-acre campus that will likely be divided among different buildings. 

Davis said the academy, which hosts the Academy Awards and has a membership of about 6,500 filmmakers, began thinking about the museum five years ago, and that it began the search for a new architect two years ago. The academy’s original list of candidates included 154 architects, a number they whittled down to 32, and then to five finalists. 

While some Los Angeles architects have grumbled that a local architect should have won the commission, Davis said the choice came down to a combination of aesthetics, practicality, and Portzamparc’s alluring intangibles. “We certainly had no prejudice against local people,” he said. “He seduced those of us who went to Paris and then he came here and re-seduced the committee. You can tell you’re dealing with a visionary, a sort of poet of architecture. He has a very unusual and artistic approach to his craft.” 

Portzamparc, 1994 winner of the Pritzker Prize, is best known for his design of the French Embassy in Berlin (2003), his LVMH Tower in New York (1999), and his Cité de la Musique in Paris (1995). 

The academy, which plans to raise $300 million to build the museum, is in final negotiations to secure the last parcel of land it needs for the site. 

Davis said that he hopes to have renderings of the new museum by this summer. For now, he says, the museum will not focus on artifacts, but on how movies are made and the impact of cinema. It has named Maryland-based Gallagher & Associates to design the museum’s exhibition spaces. 

Sam Lubell